Finding an ideal fly line for pike fishing in the UK can be hard work. Many brands appear to offer lines for pike or musky, but further investigation will show you that most of these lines float, rendering them almost totally useless for 90% of UK pike fly fishing situations! A conversation with Rio fly line guru Simon Gawesworth on just this subject resulted in me purchasing my first Outbound Short. In the twelve months since, I've been able to comprehensively test the different 9# densities on offer.
The line itself is a very, very short headed design. The head of the line is 30', with 70' of very thin running line and a factory welded loop at each end (I must admit I do cut the loop at the head end off and replace it with a 50lb braided loop but Simon has assured me that I really don't need to!). It is offered in four different densities, floating, Intermediate head with a floating running line, full intermediate and a Hi-D Sink 6. All of the lines are constructed around a mono core with Rio's Agent X super slick coating.
I must admit that the first time I used the Outbound Short I struggled to get to grips with it. The rear taper is very drastic, and as such the caster cannot afford any "overhang" (false casting with running line out past the tip ring) - the thin running line simply cannot transfer energy to the very short, thick head of the line. Rio have designed all these lines with a colour change between the running line and the head, making finding the "sweet spot" of this line very easy. Once you have got used to the idea that this line is all shoot and no carry it really does go miles!
Shooting the very thin running line is effortless; the heavy head on this line simply whips the line from your feet. It is however a little prone to tangling and I would advise that a little line management before each cast should be exercised. After an hour's fishing generally the running line stretched out a little and I found the tangling issue went away.
I've used the Outbound Shorts in many different situations, from big reservoir fishing with 12" 6/0 monster flies to a very small stream with size 1/0 baitfish patterns and not once has this line failed to carry the flies in the air. It is essential to be able to double haul to carry such flies but even inexperienced casters will find using the Outbound short will increase their distance and ability to use larger flies.
One thing I did notice about the line is that it has a large amount of stretch to it. Ideally a pike fly line would have a zero stretch braided core, making hook setting a more direct affair. Having said that I've barely missed a take in twelve months so maybe my concerns here are purely theoretical. I've been able to try these lines on four different 9# rods, the Hardy Pro-axis, the Greys Platinum Saltwater, the Sage Xi3 and the Chris Clemes hand built saltwater 9#. The Hardy and the Sage certainly handled the heavy head most effectively; at a push I'd say the Hardy and the Outbound Short are the perfect match.
Finally, after years of having to making do with lines that weren't quite up to it, Rio have provided the pike fly angler with a range of lines that really will get the job done.